Iranian Outlaws: Satire vs. Censorship
Saman Arbabi will use his signature wit to relate how the satirical TV program challenges the oppressive Iranian regime all the while influencing the direction of the country’s political landscape. The program, “Parazit,” has become a runaway hit in Iran despite the gov’s strict censorship practices. The program uses alternate channels of distribution to reach their audience which has driven the program further underground and contributed to its outlaw status and popularity. The show has so completely seeped into the Iranian psyche that the president and his supporters have launched a counter-Parazit program. Saman will give insight into their innovative methods of growing an audience that was previously all but unreachable. At SXSW, he will unveil his latest: "Weapons of Mouse Destruction," the largest global art project against government Internet censorship. Raina Kumra BBG Director of Innovation will open the session with an overview of closed media environments around the world.
Raina Kumra and Robert Bole are Co-Directors of Innovation at the BBG. The new leadership team will help advance the BBG’s mission to reach global audiences, collaborating with BBG Networks: the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio and TV Marti, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks. The new team will focus on public-private partnerships, and innovate across content, access and distribution for the BBG.
She is the founder and CEO of The Agency for Holistic Branding, a strategic design firm who's mission is to create work that improves people's lives by creating cross-cultural impact. She serves on the Advisory Boards for MedicMobile, (open source mobile health), SMS:Credit (open source micro-finance tools), EpidemIQ (open data for health) and Sanjhi (media literacy for Indian youth). Previously, Raina led the conversion of Wieden+Kennedy New York to a full-service digital agency in her role as Director of Digital Strategies.
Raina holds a B.S. in Film and Television production from Boston University, an M.A. in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU’s ITP program and an M.Des.S. in Design Studies for Digital Applications in Urban Planning and Architecture from Harvard University. Her work has been published in several journals and is part of the MoMA permanent collection.
Saman Arbabi, co-host, co- creator and Executive Producer of Parazit (the ‘Daily Show of Iran’) will talk about evading censorship, challenging the oppressive Iranian regime and reaching the pulse of millions of young Iranians. Parazit, which is illegal in Iran, has quickly gained recognition- becoming an international phenomenon. Saman Arbabi uses his signature wit, street art style and anti-establishment attitude to reach his audience through Web steaming, bootleg DVD distribution, blogs and Facebook, all of which have driven the program further underground and contribute to its outlaw status and popularity.
On January 20, 2011, Saman Arbabi and co-host Kambiz Hosseini made an unforgettable appearance on The Daily Show. At the end of the segment, Jon Stewart proclaimed, "I just want to tell you, you are like our show, but with real guts and I’m proud to be considered in the same fraternity of humor that you guys are in." This appearance was the catalyst for their international popularity and for significantly growing their Facebook fans to over 830,000. At SWSW, he will give insight into their innovative methods of growing an audience that was previously all but unreachable.
Saman will also unveil his latest project: Weapons of Mouse Destruction (WMD), the largest global art project against government Internet censorship that has ever been launched. The official global launch of WMD is at SXSW so join Saman on March 9th to become a Weapon of Mouse Destruction against internet censorship around the world. In the meantime, follow @WMouseD for more information.
Saman Arbabi is also an award winning international journalist, who was born in Tehran, Iran in 1973 and then moved to the United States in 1986. He has a background in political cartoons and satire. Saman started his career at ABC Radio, as an intern then moved up to become the Executive Producer for the popular DC-based radio show the Jack Diamond Morning Show. In 2003, he was hired at Voice of America (VOA) as the first Iranian video journalist. As a video journalist and war correspondent, he covered Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Egypt, Bahrain, UAE and the 2006 IAEA talks in Vienna, Austria. He has produced and reported over 100 stories from the Middle East and North Africa.